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Regular outdoor activities good for children's eyes: ministry

2012/09/15 19:30:57

Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) Children are less likely to be myopic if they spend at least two hours outside every day, as outdoor activities allow children to both relax and strengthen their eyes, the Ministry of Education said Saturday.

According to a government survey, 21.5 percent of first-grade students in Taiwan were short-sighted, with the figure reaching 65.8 percent among sixth graders.

Wang Chun-chuan, head of the ministry's Department of Physical Education, said Taiwanese students' lack of outdoor activities was one reason for the situation.

They spend more time doing activities such as reading books, doing homework and looking at the blackboard in class than their counterparts abroad, Wang said.

In the past, the ministry used to promote eye exercises to avoid the risk of myopia among children, but the campaign was not particularly effective because most students opted to stay in their classrooms during breaks between classes, Wang noted.

By spending a combined two hours doing outdoor activities and looking at distant objects, children will be able to relax their eyes efficiently and reduce the risk of being short-sighted, he said, adding two hours is believed to be long enough to allow eyes to rest.

Wang explained that the key stage of children's vision development was before the fourth grade. Therefore, he suggested schools consider the health of the students while promoting reading.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Nell Shen)